Some people get to the point where they are utterly unapproachable, their presence is profaned by the rest of us common folk. It’s not merely fame which creates that kind of impenetrable social barrier, lots of famous people are gracious with their time and presence. It’s not money, either; some of the nicest, most pleasant and personable people I’ve ever met have been people of means.
It’s power that most often creates social distance, to the point that some people are on a social island, detached from the rest of us.
Tonight, Oprah Winfrey admitted as much on the red carpet at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Wife is a huge fan of awards season, and I humor her by sitting in and watching (and lipping off as much as possible before she gets irritated) with her. It’s the right thing to do; that, and it’s vicarious payback for all the Sunday nights I spent growing up knowing that everyone else was up watching an awards show while, for me, it was a school night and I had to go to bed. (Take that, Mom!)
(ummm…love you, Mom. kidding. please don’t grimace.)
Oprah showed up, and would not leave the door of her Escalade limousine until her entourage was there to escort her. Even when she was interviewed by Giuliana Rancic, she had three others there, as though she couldn’t even function without her people. Oprah is not merely famous or merely wealthy, she is a power broker, a person maker and breaker and has been for years.
Oprah Foster Kane.
Those of you who have seen the original cinematic epic Citizen Kane know exactly what I’m talking about: Orson Welles’ Charles Foster Kane, newspaper and media magnate, wound up dead, alone with his enormous wealth and property, Xanadu. Such power and opulence are not liberating, but imprisoning as life goes on. The powerful end up crushed under the weight of their own power, so long as they drink deeply of their own kool-aid. Such is the fate of despots, politicians, celebrities and titans of industry, these all sacrifice their privacy to be a person of note and means. But that’s not the crux of the matter: they sacrifice their humanity when they use fame and fortune as a way to dominate others.
It’s hard to be buddy-buddy with the president or CEO, no?
How many billions of dollars were in that room tonight? And they needed Chase, United, Grey Goose Vodka and Subaru to sponsor their broadcast tonight? And we tune in to watch them celebrate…themselves?
I don’t mind watching TV, taking in a movie or otherwise being entertained. The difference is that I live and then choose to be entertained, I don’t get entertained so that I am permitted to live. Many of these entertainers have no idea, or have long forgotten, what it is like to live.
When they pass away, they’ll get a snippet in the ‘In Memoriam’ section of the following year’s awards show, they’ll cut to an ad for Brawndo, and the show will go on. After all, Anne Hathaway has a dental plan, since she’s unionized and all.
Then the sleds will be burned and the world will keep on turning: no one will care about Oprah’s Rosebud.